Four from Berkeley win prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships

Alison Greggor

Alison Greggor

The opportunity to do research as an undergraduate at Berkeley opened Alison Greggor’s eyes, she says, “to the fact that people are doing research for a living.”

There are “so many questions to be answered,” Greggor says. “It’s really exciting.”

After graduating last May, Greggor — determined to get more such experience — did a five-month stint with an ongoing scientific study in Hawaii. The question at hand: whether swim-with-the-dolphins tours are impacting the spinner dolphin’s unique sleep pattern — which involves only half its brain at a time, so the awake half can help it come up for air periodically — and thus contributing to a recent decline in Hawaii’s spinner-dolphin population.

Greggor, spurred by what she learned on the Big Island, is keen to delve deeper into human-animal interactions. Later this year she’ll get the chance to do just that — researching human interaction with the jackdaw, a bird species similar to a crow — for a Ph.D. in experimental psychology at England’s Cambridge University.

The Novato, Calif., native is among 40 U.S. scholars — four of them from Berkeley — to receive a 2012 Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a prestigious award that pays the full cost of a graduate degree, in any field of study, at Cambridge. (See Greggor’s Gates Cambridge profile here.)

The three other 2012 winners of UC Berkeley pedigree:

Albert Kim, Alexandra Reider, Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez

Albert Kim, Alexandra Reider, Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez

Albert Kim is currently completing his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science. At Cambridge, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in advanced computer science. One project Kim is working on currently is a microblogging service “designed to work even in the face of an adversarial government which may impose an Internet blackout on the country,” he says. “This work is motivated by the recent events in the Middle East, in which repressive governments have censored or even completely disconnected the Internet to subdue the flow of information from protesters.”

 Alexandra Reider studied comparative literature and French at Berkeley. At Cambridge, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. She is currently teaching English in France and working with Tradadev, a nonprofit that helps provide NGOs with free translation services.

 Pedro Spivakovsky-Gonzalez graduated cum laude from Berkeley in 2010. Keenly interested in developmental economics, he plans to study for a degree in economics at Cambridge. Currently, Spivakovsky-Gonzalez works in the White House for the Council of Economic Advisers. As an undergrad he worked for the U.S. State Department (in Spain) and the American Enterprise Institute.

Since the Gates Cambridge Scholars program began in 2001, 19 UC Berkeley students or alumni have won Gates Scholarships, more than any other public university in the U.S. The scholarship is open to students from anywhere in the world except the United Kingdom.